Divorce Relocation Laws

Can I take the kids and move to another state?

Divorce and child custody disputes are, understandably, very emotional and can be overwhelmingly stressful. This, along with factors such as parental job re-location and availability of child-care elsewhere, a parent to desire to simply take the kids and move out of state. Is this possible in Virginia? Yes, but it’s not as simple as sounds, and the answer depends not only on the specific facts and circumstances of each case, but also on where in the process of separation and/or divorce the parents are.

Contact Locke & Quinn online, or by phone (804) 285-6253, to speak with a divorce lawyer and arrange a consultation.

Does it matter if I have an order providing for custody and visitation?

Yes.  Until there is a court order regarding custody and visitation for their children, each parent is presumed to be acting in the child’s best interests, including when making decisions regarding where to live.  Once an order with respect to custody and visitation has been entered, relocation may be violation of the court order and may result in a the relocating parent being held in contempt of court or make them subject to criminal proceedings.   Although every custody order is different, after an order has been entered, to be safe, the parent wanting to relocate with the children should obtain court permission before doing so.

Custody, Generally

There are basically two types of custody: “physical’ and “legal.” “Physical custody typically refers to with whom the child lives.  “Legal custody” means having the rights and responsibilities associated with decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. The parent with whom the child primarily lives (who has physical custody of the child) is referred to as the “custodial parent.” The non-custodial parent is the parent with whom the children reside less than with the custodial parent.

Criminal Implications

Any and all disputes for child custody and visitation are resolved looking to the children’s best interests. Under Virginia law, parental child-napping is usually a misdemeanor unless the child is taken outside the Commonwealth, at which time it becomes a felony and subject to the provisions of the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA) of 1980. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-49.1 states that any person who knowingly, wrongfully and intentionally withholds a child from the child’s custodial parent in a clear and significant violation of a court order respecting the custody or visitation of such child, provided such child is withheld outside of the Commonwealth, shall be guilty of parental abduction punishable as a Class 6 felony. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-47 states as a separate offense that any person who, by force, intimidation or deception, and without legal justification or excuse, seizes, takes, transports, detains or secretes the person of another, with the intent to deprive such other person of his personal liberty or to withhold or conceal him from any person, authority or institution lawfully entitled to his charge, is deemed guilty of “abduction.” Depending on the circumstances of the case, this charge can be punishable as a Class 6 Felony and contempt of court.

Factors the Court Considers in Awarding Custody & Considering Relocation

The court will always look to the children’s best interests in resolving child custody and visitation disputes. There is no inference that the mother or the father is the better parent. In considering relocation, Virginia courts will generally allow relocation where the relocation is in the child’s best interest. However, the benefit to the child must be separate from the benefit to the custodial parent.  For example, if the custodial parent has remarried and their new spouse’s employer transfers them to another jurisdiction, the custodial parent must still prove that the relocation is in the child’s best interest.

Relocation – Procedural Issues

After an order has been entered, a party intending to relocate to another state must give the court and other party thirty days’ advance written notice of intent to relocate and any intended change of address. Va. Code Ann. § 20-124.5.   However, if the other parent objects to the child’s relocation, the court proceedings can take six months or longer.  In the meantime, in the discretion of the court, the child may be permitted to relocate, pending final determination by the court.  Of course, the court may decide in its discretion to maintain the status quo by enjoining (preventing) the custodial parent from relocating prior to a final determination.

Contact Us

Divorce attorneys at Locke and Quinn can help you with regard to your custody issues – including relocating or preventing the other parent from relocating. The attorneys at Locke & Quinn have knowledge of the evidence required and the procedural rules that need to be followed in relocation cases. Contact our Richmond family law firm today.

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My Experience With Colleen Quinn and Her Assistant Peggie Stinnette Are Absolutely The Best!!! Would Like To Commend Them Both For Being So Personable, Courteous, Passionate, Professional and Very Trustworthy!!! I'm Truly Grateful For All The Hard Work and Job Done Extremely Well!!!
Joe Trak
Joe Trak
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brenda jones
brenda jones
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Heather J
Heather J
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Kia Johnson
Kia Johnson
Colleen, thank you for taking my case and providing me the closure I needed in settling a medical negligence issue. Because of your diligence and support, I can breathe a lot easier knowing that my experience hasn't gone unnoticed and without liability on the provider's behalf. Your communication and support are appreciated by me and my husband and our family; after many turn-downs from other firms, we are grateful to have found you and your team. I will continue to recommend you to those looking for a compassionate lawyer who will fight for the closure and results that women direly need in whatever situations they face. THANK YOU!!
Kia Johnson
Kia Johnson
Stacy Lee
Stacy Lee
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Katie Oakes
Katie Oakes
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Michelle Bower
Michelle Bower
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Rene Haines
Rene Haines
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Michelle Spencer
Michelle Spencer
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Michelle Spencer
Michelle Spencer
Stepdaughter adoption- My 8yr old daughter's biological father moved to another country. After 4 yrs and little to no contact I thought there was no way this would happen without a big headache. Well, I was wrong; to say everything I need t say I will give in bullet points: Caring, Personable, Upfront, Follow-up, Efficient, Economical, Experienced and Awesome.
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Chris Perdue
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Melissa Herring
Melissa Herring
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Brandi Witherspoon
Brandi Witherspoon
My husband and I just recently finalized the adoption of our son thanks to Colleen! Our situation happened FAST, and Colleen never missed a beat. Colleen, Katie and Charli were all quick to answer any questions we had and made us feel confident in their ability to provide the services needed. We were blown away at the knowledge and organization Colleen had throughout this process as well! We intend to continue to grow our family through adoption again, and will be using Locke & Quinn!
Ashley Halsey
Ashley Halsey
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Bathsheba Colinborough
Bathsheba Colinborough
My wife and I worked with Colleen Quinn and her paralegal Charli (CharSalle) on my daughter's international re-adoption. We are in Fairfax, VA and they were happy to work with us even though we weren’t local to them. Everything was done by email and mail. They answered all of our questions in a timely manner and were very knowledgeable about the process. We worked almost entirely with Charli after the initial emails and phone calls and she was great to work with. They filed all of our paperwork with our court, everything went smoothly, and we received our Final Order. Charli has always kept us in the loop about the process and sent us updates. We mailed original documents back and forth without any issue. Their legal fee was very competitive and better than most attorneys in our own area. We are very pleased with their work and assistance in getting our adoption finalized. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone. Thank you!
Ahmed Rashid
Ahmed Rashid
My wife and I worked with Colleen Quinn and her paralegal Charli (CharSalle) on my daughter's international re-adoption. We are in Fairfax, VA and they were happy to work with us even though we weren’t local to them. Everything was done by email and mail. They answered all of our questions in a timely manner and were very knowledgeable about the process. We worked almost entirely with Charli after the initial emails and phone calls and she was great to work with. They filed all of our paperwork with our court, everything went smoothly, and we received our Final Order. Charli has always kept us in the loop about the process and sent us updates. We mailed original documents back and forth without any issue. Their legal fee was very competitive and better than most attorneys in our own area. We are very pleased with their work and assistance in getting our adoption finalized. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone. Thank you!
Ahmed R
Ahmed R
Great experience!! Everything I needed they took care of with a timely fashion! Highly recommend!
Morgan Williams Seay
Morgan Williams Seay
They were very professional and helpful with my unique case for the adoption of my son. I would recommend Colleen Quinn and her team to anybody that is looking for adoption.
Nate Davenport
Nate Davenport
kathleen cossaboon
kathleen cossaboon
Bob Stiepock
Bob Stiepock
Personal Injury is a challenging event on many levels in ones life. Have you experienced a moment where you were injured and need to seek legal advice? You need to make a call to Colleen Quinn today. I began to research different law firms that handled Personal Injury. I interviewed several attorneys and spoke with large practices to small firms. I was impressed by Colleens resume and her work with women and the law. I will never regret hiring Colleen and her TEAM. The word TEAM is exactly what I received through out my case. My case was attacked with professionalism and the team was always in communication with me. When I would call to ask questions or to get a better explanation I was always made to feel as if I was the only client. As my case arrived closer to the trail date, my TEAM went into full 110%+ effort and preparation. Colleen was ALWAYS seeking to settle my case with the best outcome that she could. YOU WILL NOT FIND A MORE UPFRONT, HONEST, HARDWORKING-GET IT DONE ATTITUDE THAN THE TEAM OF COLLEEN M. QUINN!! MAKE THAT CALL TODAY-YOU WONT REGET IT!!
Lisa Moore Walker
Lisa Moore Walker
Personal Injury is a challenging event on many levels in ones life. Have you experienced a moment where you were injured and need to seek legal advice? You need to make a call to Colleen Quinn today. I began to research different law firms that handled Personal Injury. I interviewed several attorneys and spoke with large practices to small firms. I was impressed by Colleens resume and her work with women and the law. I will never regret hiring Colleen and her TEAM. The word TEAM is exactly what I received through out my case. My case was attacked with professionalism and the team was always in communication with me. When I would call to ask questions or to get a better explanation I was always made to feel as if I was the only client. As my case arrived closer to the trail date, my TEAM went into full 110%+ effort and preparation. Colleen was ALWAYS seeking to settle my case with the best outcome that she could. YOU WILL NOT FIND A MORE UPFRONT, HONEST, HARDWORKING-GET IT DONE ATTITUDE THAN THE TEAM OF COLLEEN M. QUINN!! MAKE THAT CALL TODAY-YOU WONT REGET IT!!
beLIeVE Fitness
beLIeVE Fitness
Sharon Robertson Dewitt
Sharon Robertson Dewitt
After doing quite a bit of research on the adoption process, we decided to set up an initial consultation with Colleen, and we found that first session very beneficial and informative. There were many things that impressed us about Colleen from the very beginning: her level of expertise and reputation as an adoption attorney, the accolades she's received throughout her career, her friendly and personable nature, and her willingness to provide us with comprehensive information about the adoption process including projected fees. We also wanted to make sure that we were being well represented and advocated for, and quickly knew that Colleen would not only guide us through the adoption process, but advocate for us as well. Colleen is both passionate about what she does and compassionate toward all parties involved in the adoption process.Colleen’s paralegal, CharSalle (Charli) is an absolute treasure! Charli was readily available to answer questions by phone or by email. She would reach out to us if there was a birth mother interested in speaking or meeting with us after reviewing our profile. We were matched with a birth mother in November 2014, and our daughter was born in February 2015. Colleen and Charli guided us through the initial meetings with the birth parents, the open adoption agreements, and they stayed in touch with us by phone and email when our daughter was born. Our adoption was finalized in six months, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the level of communication we received, and continue to receive, from Colleen and Charli as well as the level of expertise and true passion they have for guiding families through the adoption process. We highly recommend Colleen, Charli, and the staff at Locke & Quinn to anyone considering adoption!!!!
Joe Ana
Joe Ana
My wife and I adopted a babygirl in 2015. A friend of mine, whose daughter is lawyer, recommended Colleen Quinn. We went for our initial consultation and we could tell immediately that Colleen was very knowledgeable and professional. She went into detail and gave us the costs associated with the adoption as well as every single step in the process. Colleen is very welcoming and easy to talk to. We cannot leave this review without mentioning our primary contact, Colleen's paralegal, CharSalle Charles (Charli). Without Charli, I don't think we would have made it through the adoption. Charli was there anytime we called to answer our questions and to provide support for us. Charli even came to the hospital the day after our daughter was born, to handle all the paperwork between us and the birth mother. We truly thank Locke and Quinn and especially Charli for their hard work and support. Our adoption was even finalized a month in advance of the initial date set forth. We highly recommend Locke and Quinn to any looking to adopt!!!
Tierre Christmas
Tierre Christmas
Cathy Tyree Herb
Cathy Tyree Herb
Colleen and the team at Locke & Quinn was very helpful guiding us through our adoption with minimal issues - would recommend based on their knowledge and experience.
Chris _
Chris _
Colleen is an excellent attorney. She fights for her clients and takes care of them every step of the way.
Kim Miller
Kim Miller

 

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